By Stan Henkeman
2018 has been an epic year and in many respects. South Africa had to contend with a number of issues from the rise of Cyril Ramamphosa as the State President, to the discourses on land expropriation without compensation and the devastating reality of corruption, particularly through state capture. The state of our economy, the continuing rise in the price of petrol, increased political tension in and between political parties, and other formations, rampant gender-based violence and exclusion and a growing discontent among the citizenry all contributed to a sense of a country in decline.
It is in this environment that the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation attempted to build fair, democratic and inclusive societies. Using our five themes (Transitional and Victim-Centred Justice, Regional reconciliation, Racism, Social Cohesion and Inclusion, Restoring Human Dignity and Socio-Economic Justice with Gender and Youth overarching themes) as a vehicle to address the profound challenges we face in South Africa and on the continent. To say that the work was challenging is an understatement given the complexities that still make the journey towards reconciliation difficult. Yet, through our dedicated, experienced, and competent staff and partners the IJR has made tremendous strides in our quest to contribute towards a more just and reconciled society.
Projects such as Anti-racism, Gender Justice, Youth identity and interconnectedness, Social Change roll-out, social Dialogues in Agriculture together with interventions in Zimbabwe, Burundi, South Sudan and the Central African Republic have all contributed to a significant IJR footprint inside and outside South Africa. The significant depth our research contribution in the form of the South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB) and the Afro Barometer (AB) created many opportunities for engagements with government, academia and the broader society. We were able to communicate our successes, challenges and hopes effectively through a comprehensive media strategy. By October 2018, the number of media items citing the IJR or authored by members of staff – including opinion pieces, radio and TV interviews and newspaper articles – stood at 6 062, up on the 3 600 such items recorded for the same period in 2017. The total Advertising Estimate value of this coverage stood at R285 637 660, up on the figure of R221 273 668 for the previous year, indicating significant enhancement of the institute’s media footprint.
We have told many stories of many Africans doing their bit to change the negative narrative of the continent. As we end 2018, we look back with a sense of gratitude, humility and satisfaction that we were afforded the opportunity to work for justice and reconciliation. As we all take a well-deserved break we are conscious that it is only to replenish our inner resources to contribute more enthusiastically and consciously to a better life for all in 2019.
On behalf of the IJR, I want to wish our colleagues, friends, partners, donors and families a restful holiday season.
Executive Director, IJR